After Covington, a helpful reminder from Mark Twain

The news media’s performance over the Covington affair was so shameful as to almost defy belief . . . yet they’re mostly unapologetic, and even eager to do it all over again at the earliest possible opportunity.  The truth is not in them.

In that light, this quotation from Mark Twain is worth remembering.  (A tip o’ the hat to HMS Defiant, where I found the graphic.)




  1. I'm not certain that is an accurate quote – – I don't think "the media" was a common usage in Twain's time. He would likely have said "the press" or "the newspapers."

  2. @Bob: I checked the quote on several quotations reference sites. All agreed on the wording, so I presume it's original.

  3. What quotations reference sites? The word "media" didn't come into use until after Samuel Clemens died. He likely said something similar, it fits with his opinions.

  4. According to an Abe Lincoln quote I saw on the Internet, "The trouble with quotes on the Internet is that you never kno if they are genuine."

  5. This certainly SOUNDS like Mr. Twain. And it is an important reminder; the Press has ALWAYS been full of bias. Newspapers started as political broadsides, and never really got all that distant from that model. The pious ideal of 'Unbiased Journalism' is, and always has been, fake.

  6. You'll notice the gossips, both the commercial entities as well as private citizens, are always ever-too-enthusiastic about digging up as much dirt as they can on anyone they deem to be "vulnerable" to easy public disgrace.

  7. Apparently sniped checked on it.

    BUT here is the twist! Seems he did say it, the quote is a paraphrase.

    "That awful power, the public opinion of a nation, is created in America by a horde of ignorant, self-complacent simpletons who failed at ditching and shoemaking and fetched up in journalism on their way to the poorhouse. I am personally acquainted with hundreds of journalists, and the opinion of the majority of them would not be worth tuppence in private, but when they speak in print it is the newspaper that is talking (the pygmy scribe is not visible) and then their utterances shake the community like the thunders of prophecy.

    But I will not continue these remarks. I have a sort of vague general idea that there is too much liberty of the press in this country, and that through the absence of all wholesome restraint the newspaper has become in a large degree a national curse, and will probably damn the Republic yet.

    There are some excellent virtues in newspapers, some powers that wield vast influences for good; and I could have told all about these things, and glorified them exhaustively — but that would have left you gentlemen nothing to say."

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